Dublin are entering 2022 in a very different place in comparison to other years.
Each season since 2016, the Dubs had began their league campaign as the reigning All-Ireland champions. That, coupled with many of their games taking place in Croke Park, gave them an air of invincibility on many occasions.
There was something different about last night's encounter with Armagh. Kieran McGeeney's side are one on the rise and they certainly didn't seem fazed by the prospect of a visit to GAA headquarters, eventually emerging as well deserved 2-15 to 1-13 winners.
This incredible Rian O'Neill goal was scored without the aid of a hand-passpic.twitter.com/GOw078qKoF
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) January 29, 2022
The Dublin team was one that featured plenty of big names, but also some that will be less familiar to the public. It is certainly a side in transition as they seek to replace some of the key figures that have stepped away from the panel over the last couple of years.
The air of invincibility could well be gone.
Speaking to RTÉ after last night's defeat, Dublin boss Dessie Farrell hinted that his side could experience some mixed form in their league campaign as a result of trying to integrate a number of new players.
At the end of the day, we just need to focus on ourselves as a group. There's definitely a significant amount of transition going on.
Our lot of core players have left the squad over the last two to three years. We're trying to replace that quality. You can't replace the experience obviously.
But the league is going to tell us whether we have the quality to step in and fill the boots that have left.
That's what we're going to see. It's nights like tonight that you get a good handle on who potentially is capable of playing in the big-time...
For us, it's about taking a look at some new players. There's a couple of others players we'd like to see throughout the league as well. Slowly but surely, some senior players will make their way back as well. It's a building process for us for sure.
We're trying to introduce some new blood while remaining competitive in the league but ultimately our sights are set on what's going to happen in the summer.
Dublin will certainly be among the contenders by the time the championship rolls around, although they may no longer be the team to beat.
It will be interesting to see how this team develops in the months ahead.